From funky fungi to melodious mangos, this artist makes music out of nature
Electronic musician Tarun Nayar hopes his organic tunes remind people about the joy of 'wild places'
At the intersection of biology and electronic music, you can find Tarun Nayar plugging his synthesizer equipment into mushrooms and other forms of plant life, hoping to capture their invisible bioelectric rhythms and build them into tranquil soundscapes.
"What I'm really doing is trying to stimulate joy and wonder and create these little sketches or vignettes using the plants themselves, so I like to think of it as definitely a collaboration," Nayar told As It Happens guest host Helen Mann.
Nayar is an electronic musician and former biologist in Vancouver who uses his TikTok account and Youtube page, Modern Biology, to show off his serenading spores. And his videos have millions of views.
To make his fungi sing, Nayar uses little jumper cables to connect the vegetation with his synthesizer and measure their biological energy, or bioelectricity, which has an effect on the notes.
"The mushroom is contributing the pitch changes and the rhythm, and the synthesizer, which I have the mushroom plugged into, is contributing the timbre or the quality of the sound," Nayar said.
"So we're converting those small changes in bioelectricity into small note changes on a synthesizer. Basically, that's the magic that's happening."
Watch: Tarun Nayar makes music with mushrooms:
But it isn't just shrooms that help Nayar lay down his organic beats. From mangos to watermelons, Nayar likes to sample whatever sound nature might have to offer him.
"I really think of it as almost a universal wind chime. I like to listen to the present moment," Nayar said.
As Nayar continues to make music, he says he's looking forward to adding more organisms to his arrangements.
"I really want to do more stuff with cacti for sure. And one of my fascinations is working in older growth, you know, wild places," he said.
"I think working in environments that haven't been touched is really fascinating for me. And so I have plans in the works to do more of that."
But it's not just about giving people something unique to watch on TikTok, or even about discovering new and interesting sounds.
With the money that he makes, Nayar says he aims to do his part in protecting the world he gets his music from.
"I'm trying to direct as much energy and attention and awareness and funds as I can from this project to protecting wild places."
Written by Philip Drost. Produced by Kate McGillivray.